General News of Friday, 14 July 2017
Member of Parliament for Obuasi West Constituency of the Ashanti Region, Kwaku Kwarteng is beseeching his colleagues to forgive errant financial analyst, Sydney Casely-Hayford over his “stupid Parliament” comment.
The Deputy Finance Minister urged the House to take into consideration the fact that Mr. Casely-Hayford has admitted he erred and has subsequently apologised and withdrawn the statement, and let go.
Mr. Casely-Hayford had said the legislative body has outlived its usefulness and that if he had his way, he would “break down Parliament”.
“These people are sitting there, spending money like crazy, making stupid decisions, and passing stupid laws. They don’t read the papers that they are given, they don’t think through what the challenges are,” he observed.
Unhappy with the statement from the outspoken anti-corruption campaigner, some Parliamentarians threatened to drag him before the Privileges Committee of Parliament.
However, speaking on News Night on Joy FM, Mr. Casely-Hayford apologised for the unsavoury comment.
He said the statement “was not intended to insult or maim anyone in Parliament; it was passion and nothing else.”
But the insistence of Ras Mubarak, MP for Kunbungu constituency that Mr. Casely-Haford is dragged to the Privileges Committee of the House to answer for his “insulting comments”, has prompted his colleague from the side of the Majority to lead the charge for clemency.
“When we recognise that we have erred and we retract [and apologise], people should accept that,” Mr Kwarteng stated on the Super Morning on Joy FM, Friday, July 14, 2017.
He said politicians must not see themselves as “extraordinary human beings” and therefore should endeavour to “treat the public as our brothers”.
The MP also advised the public against making inflammatory statements against the legislative body because “we just won’t accept that”.
“Parliament may not have treated all incidents of contempt the same way…but that does not provide justification for somebody to say just anything,” Mr. Kwarteng cautioned.
Dean of the GIMPA Law School, Kofi Abotsi speaking on the same platform advised MPs against being sentimental in handling statements they consider contemptuous of the House.
This he said, would avoid the perception by the general public that Parliamentarians are intolerant of criticisms.
“Parliament may have to exercise a certain degree of institutional self-restraint…to avoid the situation where people may think Parliament may be stampeding their right to free speech,” Mr. Abotsi noted.
Agreeing with Mr Abotsi’s view, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) Sulemana Braimah said Parliament should not be seen to gagging people with the power of contempt.
“The dignity of Parliament can only be earned but not forced on the people. Parliament has contempt powers. Yes, it does and for good reasons.
“But the reasons for it certainly do not include using it to curtail the people’s right to free speech and expression.
“We are better off with our right to free speech without a Parliament than a Parliament without our right to free speech,” he said.
Mr Braimah also challenged the House to act on cases involving some members who are alleged to have engaged in acts that stained the public image of Parliament.